One of the most glamorous cities of France, Nice has everything – sun, sea and sparkle. Ever popular with tourists there’s plenty to do and see and it’s not for nothing that this vibrant city is called “the jewel of the Cote d’Azur”.
The old town, Vieux Nice is lively, colourful and vibrant. Stylish streets, marvellous markets, sophisticated shops, boho boutiques and plenty of bars, cafés and restaurants mean there’s something to please everyone here. Nice enjoys the most sunshine of any city in France (300 days a year), has the longest urban seafront in Europe and is the most visited city in France after Paris.
Nice city guide
In June and July it gets very hot, take plenty of breaks to cool down and sip a chilled drink – there’s lots of choices and not much beats sitting at a café watching the world go by in the sun. The wiggly streets can be shady or find a cool bar to rest at in the Cours Saleya in the main square. There are plenty of public gardens where you can relax under the trees or splash about in fountains. The Promenade de Paillon in the city centre has a water mirror feature, fountains and mist sprays and you’ll find pop up bars selling cool drinks.
Stroll along the Promenade des Anglais and take the lift to the Colline du Chateau at the eastern end for fabulous views over Nice and a fun place for a picnic or to chill out.
Don’t miss out on the markets! Cours Saleya market is famous for its colourful stalls and fabulous produce. There’s a daily market here – from Tuesday to Saturday it’s all about food. On Sundays its mostly flowers and some food and on Mondays its antiques and flea market stalls. There’s another market at Place Liberation which is where the locals go rather than tourists and the food here is brilliant.
Discover more about the markets of Nice
It’s not just glitz and glamour, beyond the pizzazz there’s plenty to please those seeking cultural pursuits in and around Nice which has the most museums in France after Paris.
Musée Matisse: A rich collection of the artist’s work, near the hill of Cimiez and the city’s Gallo-Roman ruins, close to the Hotel Regina where Matisse lived.
Hidden beauty: Palais Lascaris is easy to miss, but well worth seeking out: this beautiful palace has luxuriously decorated rooms, fabulous frescoed ceilings, Aubusson tapestries, paintings, sculptures, and objets d’art of the 17th and 18th centuries plus a magnificent historical musical instrument collection (15 Rue Droite).
Whether it’s on the pavement of a winding street in the old town, around the port, along the long stretch of coast, in the Cours Saleya where the market is held or on the rooftop of a swanky hotel, there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets…
Fancy a snack: Socca (not soccer!) at Chez Pipo near the port is a must. A local speciality pancake made form chickpea flour and olive oil, the Niçois adore it! (13 rue Bavastro)
Locals love: Le Canon for the quality and simple, tasty dishes (23 Rue Meyerbeer).
Wine and dine: Aphrodite is one of the best gastronomic restaurants in Nice. Chef David Faure’s dishes are inventive and exciting, and not expensive (10 Boulevard Dubouchage).
Locals love: Place Rosetti, a picturesque square in the old town with lots of bars, in the evening the scene is lively as local musicians often turn up to play guitar, cello or accordion.
Relax at: Le Cave de la Tour – Champagnes, wines and a great atmosphere tempt you to lose track of time here. (3 rue de la Tour – Vieux Nice)
Splash out: Join the jet set and celebrities at Le Relais Bar at the famous Hotel Le Negresco where the cocktails are über cool.
The Inside Track
Chill out on the pebble beach (don’t worry you can hire a comfy sun bed) or take an hour long boat trip round the bay. If you’ve got more time, sail further afield; from Nice you can visit Monaco (with a 2 hour stop over), St Tropez, Cannes or Sainte-Marguerite Island, an area of outstanding natural beauty (and the place where the Man in the Iron Mask was held prisoner). Tour details: www.trans-cote-azur.co.uk or the Tourist Office.
Take a vineyard tour: One of the smallest AOC’s (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée), the only one entirely within city limits, Bellet (formed of a cluster of vineyards) is one of the oldest winemaking areas in France. A dozen or so domaines offer tastings, tours and a warm welcome. (Check at the tourist office for opening times for visits).
Take a Selfie
At the Colline du Chateau at the eastern end of Promenade des Anglais. The 92m hill is the highest point in Nice and though there’s no chateau (it was dismantled by Louis XIV) there’s a lovely park and the views over the Baie des Anges and Nice are magnificent. If you don’t want to climb to the top, take the lift!
The famous market of Nice takes place daily at the Cours Saleya in the heart of the city. From Tuesday to Sunday (06h – 17.30h) you can buy fresh produce and on Monday antiques and second hand goods. It’s a great place to while away an hour and then cool off with a sit and sip of something delicious in the shade of a café round the square.
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Tourist Office Website: explorenicecotedazur.com; Address: 5 Promenade des Anglais